2 Peter 2:12-14 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!”
Peter is continuing (in verses 12-14) his attack on these false teachers that are corrupting the people of God and the gospel of God. To help these scattered Christians in Asia Minor, Peter articulates five general characteristics about false teachers.
These false teachers are like “unreasoning animals”. (v. 12)
These individuals acted like animals, living by their instincts, rather than as image-bearers, which is ignorant and foolish.
These false teachers are arrogant. (v.13)
These teachers are bold, flaunting publicly their immorality before God and the world. The apostle Paul spoke similar words to another group of false teachers.
Philippians 3:18-19 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
These false teachers are deceptive. (v. 13)
These teachers are basically living as anti-shepherds, the reversal of God’s design for shepherds, who are designed to protect, serve and lead their flocks.
These false teachers are predators. (v. 14)
Peter is clear that these false teachers are both monetary predators and sexual predators. These actions should remind the reader of the wicked actions of Eli’s sons, who functioned as priests of Israel.
1 Samuel 2:22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
These false teachers are cursed. (v. 14)
It is interesting that Peter is not pronouncing a curse; he is saying that these teachers are cursed, awaiting future judgment. In other words, these actions of these teachers are so damming, Peter is confident (as far as a human can) of their standing before God.
There is one phrase that needs explanation. What does Peter mean by the phrase “as they feast with you”?
These were probably Christian community feasts that included the Lord’s Supper. In the culture of the day (whether Greek or Roman culture), feasts included the meal and then the “drinking party”. Normally, wine was poured into a large vat and water was added at the discretion of the master of the feast.
Sadly, these false teachers were encouraging drunkenness which likely brought predatory opportunities for these so-called Christian leaders.
An clear example of this excess was seen in the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 11:21-22 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
As I studied this text, I grappled with this question, “How do we apply passages of scripture like this one to our lives (i.e. passages that are historically fixed)?” Here are four practical suggestions.
1) Christians must hold God’s word as the ultimate authority, not human teachers.
2) Self-deception is a possibility for every Christian.
3) False teachers are often Satan’s greatest weapons because they embed truth in a lie.
4) False teachers/teaching is always on the horizon, whether in your church or the church on the corner, so be ready!
5) The Christian ought to diligently pray for the personal and doctrinal purity of church leadership.